A lot of you Minnesotans are still enjoying your time out on the water before things freeze over.
But even though some parts of Minnesota haven't dipped below freezing yet, temps have been chilly and the water is cold – meaning if you fall in, it's even more imperative you have some sort of life jacket.
Case in point: This incident with two hunters out of Cass County.
A couple of men out duck hunting early Tuesday on Leech Lake were thrown into the water after their boat capsized. It was just after 6 a.m. – so still dark, chilly and windy. Deputies used cellphone mapping technology to pinpoint the hunters' location, and when they got there, they found the men on top of the capsized boat.
Both of them had on "floatable type coats."
Wear. Your. Life. Jacket.
Which brings us to the bigger point here.
Last year, half of all boating deaths in Minnesota happened on cold water, DNR figures showed. (Usually it's around 30 percent of all fatalities.) Men are the most common victims.
And with duck hunters and fall fishermen out, the Cass County Sheriff's Office is stressing preparation. Their post has tips for how to dress, how to test out your gear, and a list of things you should still be able to do while wearing all that gear.
"With few exceptions, cold shock causes people to immediately lose control of their breathing. As a result, many of them suddenly drown – even though they can swim," the sheriff's office wrote.
Water temps below 70 degrees are considered "cold." The DNR said life jackets are especially important during the "cold water" season – that's April, May, October and November – because of how your body reacts to the sudden temperature plunge.
“The shock of falling into cold water triggers your gasp reflex, which more than likely means inhaling water,” Debbie Munson Badini, boating safety representative with the Minnesota DNR, said this spring. "Wearing a life jacket gives you a fighting chance to get your head above water, stay calm instead of panicking, and call for help before hypothermia sets in."
In Minnesota, a "readily accessible and wearable life jacket" is required for each person on board a boat, and children under 10 are required to wear one. Boats 16 feet or longer also need a throwable flotation device on board.
And the DNR said you should actually wear the life-saving device – not just have it onboard. Putting on a life jacket is the one action that "significantly increases" your chances of survival if you fall into cold water, the agency said.